Confident BeginnerA Jack of no Trades
#FBF: A Big Long Post about IKEA.
Guyyyyyyssssssss the 2017 IKEA CATALOGUE IS OUTTT!
As you may be able to deduce, I still love IKEA no matter what my 2014 self says below. I feel like IKEA is just like me: they know the world is shitty, and they are trying their best to make changes in their own day-to-day to make a difference but that can’t happen 100% of the time all day, every day ya know?! They are, of course, in it for that hard cash monaayyys.
Here are some of my current obsessions from the new catalogue, and below is a little look back on some research I have done about IKEA in the past.
UGH. That colour palette, that muted mint couch, THOSE HAND WOVEN RUGS. Hold me back, line of credit payments, I MAY JUST GO CRAZY.
Anyways….have a killer Friday, friends!
A Big Long Post about IKEA.
Originally Posted September 19, 2014
You may remember from my kitchen dreams of yore that we have moved into a new place. We, being my mortgage-locked boyfriend and pug, have officially lived in our new abode for two full months (give or take a few days), and what have we accomplished?
Well, almost nothing.
Or that is how it seems right now: clutter is everywhere, boxes and garbage bags rule our patio, there is vertical blind carnage is as far as the eye can see.
Right after moving in, we had to quickly get out of our rental, then I vacationed, then we got chromecast, so naturally my ‘finish it off asap’ plan has mutated into a depressing state of post-natural disaster like mess. Eventually, I will begin tackling the seemingly endless amount of tasks to make my house Design Sponge worthy.
So, what is one to do when DIY dreams cannot become DIY realities? She forces her boyfriend to drive her to IKEA.
I have been a true-and-tested IKEA-maniac since my 14-year old mind started ‘designing’ my teenage bedroom. Once, in the not too distant past, I calculated that over 30 visible items in my home (furniture, decor, containers) were from IKEA. If that does not seem like a huge deal for you, consider the fact that those 30 items were approximately 80% of my life’s tangible items.
Now, 12-ish years later and hopefully the wiser, I started to think about my IKEA lifestyle: what it meant, where it was going, and if I even wanted to be in it anymore. IKEA is the epitome of the college experience (well, that and hepatitis) and as I grow older, I feel that it may be time to put those days behind me.
Of late, I have been much more cognizant of where my products are coming from, how they are made, and what effect they have environmentally and socioeconomically. In the wake of the major controversy with our closest IKEA, and distant news stories stories of horse-meaty pasts, I wanted to learn more about the history of the store, where it currently stands, and see if this information would help or hinder my faux-designer life.
Note: Although I know the proper way to research, the time and effort real reporting should do, and the monumental downfall of using Wikipedia as a credible source, this is not a term paper; this is a blog on a personal website. I will cite my sources at the end of my writing, and should you believe I have made errors or misinterpreted factual information, I will gladly accept your comments. However, if you just want to be mean, I pray you visit this link and let your inner-meany out there instead.
IKEA was started by the entrepreneur-from-birth, Ingvar Kamprad, in 1948. After years of selling anything and everything, he refined his sales to specific items of necessity, and then eventually down to solely furniture with the advent of the first IKEA catalogue in 1951 and the first physical store in 1958. The name IKEA, is acronym of his name, Ingvar Kamprad, and Swedish townships, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, where he was born and raised.
IKEA is most well known for three distinct characteristics:
1. Flat Packed Products,
2. Particle Board,
3. Crazy Names.
According to IKEA history, the switch to DIY furniture building and flat packed products derived in 1956 when a coworker unscrewed the legs of the LOVET coffee table to fit it in a customer’s vehicle, and thus creating the beginning of every single couples first fight in the history of relationships.
In 1968, Particle board became one of the leading components of furniture. Where wood would crack and bend and is expensive to manufacture and repair, particle board is relatively inexpensive to manufacture, holds it’s shape over-time, and is very easily manipulated. A factory in Hultsfred, Sweden is IKEA’s sole provider of MDF, and has been for the better part of the stores lifespan. Not everything, however, is full-swede: most of the wood products are made in a factory called Swedwod in Southern Poland and the rest, well, the rest is made in China (no surprises there, folks.)
I have never (knowingly) spoken a word of Swedish in my life, however I would assuredly be able to tell you what type of furniture an Expedit or Hemnes is, or how comfortable an Ektorp or Karlstad is. This is ridiculous people! Anyone whom has been living under a rock for the past 60 years would emerge wondering, well, why we talk into thin pieces of plastic or how a series of tubes get me pictures of grumpy cats, but also why in one store a product is a dining room set with 4 chairs, and at IKEA it is a Bjursta with 4 Hendriksals. Ikea names have always been comically unknown to us non-Swedes, however there is a very clever reason why items are named the way they are:
Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames
Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian place names
Dining tables and chairs: Finnish place names
Bookcase ranges: Occupations
Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
Kitchens: grammatical terms, sometimes also other names
Chairs, desks: men’s names
Fabrics, curtains: women’s names
Garden furniture: Swedish islands
Carpets: Danish place names
Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
Bedlinen, bed covers, pillows/cushions: flowers, plants, precious stones
Children’s items: mammals, birds, adjectives
Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
Kitchen utensils: foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries, functional descriptions
Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks: colloquial expressions, also Swedish place names
Ikea is huge. Spatially, the store are gigantic: overflowing with products and people, small children with multicoloured balls between their germ-ladden hands, products spilling out of their white wire containers, products repeated en-masse on 20 foot walls and dishes stacked 10fold on one another. This is the IKEA way. However, IKEA is also huge in it’s diverse fan base. A brief google search provided me with over 700 books about IKEA, countless fan sites, and more DIY projects than I could ever dream of. Of the more notable in the bunch:
- Ikea Hackers, this is the mecca of all IKEA Hacks, and IKEA DIY related projects. Jules has recently gone through some legal issues over the IKEA brand-name, which you can hear more about on this episode of 99% Invisible.
- Ikea Fans, site of not just DIY’s but general showcase of everything to do with the retailer. Again, not a surprise, this site is also going through some legal issues.
- Easy to Assemble, a webseries about Illeana Douglas’s hilarous career move.
- Fifty Shades of Ikea, a perfect collection of writings about the furniture retailer in question.
- 30 Rock does Ikea, and it is good.
Ok, I’ve written quite a lot and you have ventured with me this far. My friend Joe, who, if he is reading this, is currently seething in pure IKEA hatred. It’s true, Joe is right, sometimes IKEA is just not that good.
Ikea has been in-and-out of the news, both locally and international, for various reasons throughout the years.
- In the 2013 Catalogue, Ikea removed images of women in the Saudi Arabian version, sparking gender equality rights questions world-wide.
- In 2013, Chinese Ikea’s had to throw out a poop load (wait for it) of chocolate cake due to its contaminated with a bacteria also found in poop, and Ikea recalled this cake in over 23 countries.
- In his book about IKEA, Ingvar admits to Pro-Nazi sentiments in his youth, as well as membership a post-war Swedish Socialist group. He has since apologized (obviously), and given to various charities in, let’s say, social recompense.
- In 2013, IKEA recalled thousands of meatballs in European countries, as they were tested and confirmed to have traces of horse meat in them.
- In Canada, CityTV has criticized IKEA for charging almost double the price for items in Canada as compared to the same item in the United States, although the currency remains closely at par.
- Ikea was harshly scrutinized after opening their first production warehouse in the United states and doing some very terrible things to their American workers. You can watch a video about it here.
- In 2012, allegations that IKEA France was spying on employees and clients surfaced.
- in 2012, IKEA admitted to using political prisoners and forced labour in East Germany during the 1980’s. For real. for. real.
- Locally, IKEA Richmond, one of only 2 unionized IKEA’s in Canada, has locked out over 100 employees for over a year due to labour disputes. You can learn more at www.ikeahurtsfamilies.com
With all companies, the pro’s seem very good, and the con’s seem heinous and terrible. So yeah, not everything is wonderful and happy all of the time. Welcome to 2014, people, this is the world we live in. Well, most people.
Now, however, back to the main thesis of this post: after all of this information about IKEA, will I continue to covet the Karlstad? Do I still dream about Dragans? Do I want to lounge on my Poang and put my feet up on my Lovebacken?
Like a good/bad relationship, I’m going to try to quit. I want to get rid of the bad memories and only keep the good. I want to never remember IKEA exists. But, well…
Finally, to cap it off, here are a few fun facts about IKEA:
- Although they do serve regional items in stores, the hotdog is available in almost every store. For real. An international hot-dog people. It’s real.
- The IKEA colours are yellow and blue after Sweden’s national colours.
- The in-store maze is designed to disorientate you and keep you in the store longer.
- and, a completely necessary list of Buzzfeed’s 21 Reason why Ikea is Heaven on Earth.
Now, after all of that, I hope you will leave me with your best/worst IKEA story. I know you have one (everyone does).
Here are some sources, for all of those who don’t believe a word I say.